BRUNSWICK, Maine — Base redevelopment officials say a bill to reduce state taxes on airplanes will be a key to helping the newly opened Brunswick Executive Airport thrive.
The civilian airport opened last month on more than 700 acres of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station airfield as part of the redevelopment of the 3,200-acre military installation, which officially closes May 31.
The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which oversees civilian reuse of the base property and airport management, hopes the site can become home to private airplanes and aircraft repair firms.
Current state taxes on airplanes hinder those plans, said Arthur Mayo, chairman of the MRRA board of trustees.
“The number of people in this area who park their planes in New Hampshire is large, and we’d much rather have them park on our runways and staging areas at Brunswick Executive Airport,” Mayo said. “If you fly in and you spend more than 20 days in Maine, you pay a tax. That’s definitely a deterrent.”
The bill, LD 946, was sponsored by Republican Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry and was endorsed this week by the Committee on Taxation. Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, submitted a bill that would accomplish the same tax repeal, but it was merged with Raye’s proposal, according to the Legislature’s website.
Steve Levesque, executive director of the MRRA, credited Gerzofsky with championing the airplane tax change effort on behalf of the Brunswick airport.
Because the bill carries a fiscal note, meaning it would cost the state money or reduce revenues, it must be reviewed by the Appropriations Committee before being forwarded to the full House and Senate for approvals.
Mayo said Thursday he’s confident the bill will be passed.
“It has widespread support, because there are 50 or 60 airports in Maine, technically all of which are affected by this,” he said.
Currently, nonresident airplane owners who didn’t already pay a sales tax on their planes in another state, but who spend more than 20 days in a given year in Maine with their aircraft, under current law, must pay state sales taxes equal to 5 percent of the value of the aircraft.
Under LD 946, that would no longer be the case.
“This would remove the penalty, if you will, for bringing private aircraft in here for more than 20 days,” Levesque told The Times Record on Thursday. “There’s a black mark on Maine in the pilot community that really causes us problems. It’s pretty unsettling when investors and people who own property here have got to land their aircraft in New Hampshire and rent a car to drive up to their homes or businesses. It’s really hurting us from an economic development perspective.”
Gerzofsky did not return a phone call seeking comment by press time.
For more news from the Times Record go to http://www.timesrecord.com.